Ronin dislikes food, loves cookies

March 20th, 2009 by: cheyenne

I think I can safely say there has been a major breakthrough on the sleeping front hereabouts. No, she does not sleep through the night (wakes usually twice to be fed) BUT she goes to sleep with minimal work on our part and after she is down, she usually does not need us to go in periodically and get her back to sleep. She just sleeps until she wakes up. To nurse (sigh). But still, this is seriously heaven. She is also going longer on her first sleep cycle and hopefully the trend will continue until she sleeps the entire night. Sounds brilliant right? Of course that means that if things continue at the pace they have gone since birth, she’ll be three years old before that happens.

Still, things are looking up immensely. I haven’t yet recovered from the year of broken sleep; I find myself waking after only four hours and unable to fall back asleep until she starts squawking for milk. Then of course it takes me ages to fall back asleep after I nurse her so unfortunately I have only been getting marginally more sleep than I had been getting. Presumably I’ll be able to sleep eight hours in a row again.

I with I could say there were similar breakthroughs in her eating habits but I will say that tonight I almost was worried because she actually DID eat. We’re talking: four slices of sauteed zucchini (minus the rinds), three slices of cheese more or less (less = what ended up on the floor), around a tablespoonful of leftover Indian food, a jar of baby food approximately (dolled up with ranch dressing of course), and three slices of orange. Seriously, she NEVER eats so much. I was astounded. Her belly actually felt full afterward. I don’t know what got into her.

I have had half a mind to film our little eating sessions because they are so sad and depressing generally but I haven’t gotten around to it. So here’s a little rundown of the typical scenario. It’ll be noon and she’ll have only eaten two spoonfuls of yogurt since she awoke (not counting nursing). I’ll announce in a faux-excited voice that it is Time To Eat Yay Food Oh Boy and pick her up to put her in the highchair. Immediately she’ll begin to cry piteously, struggling and arching her back. It takes me some doing to get her fastened in the chair and the tray attached and by this time she has tears running down her cheeks and is rubbing her head with both hands (she does this when she is upset or very tired) and just completely fallen apart. I always feel awful but feeding her anything but cheerios and dried fruit is not possible when not in any sort of restraining contraption. So I put her in the chair. Now that she’s stuck, I dance around with food options: Cheese?! Nana!? I start to put stuff on her tray and she either smashes it with her hand or swipes it off. Since I totally don’t have a problem picking food up off the floor and feeding it to my child, I replace it and hope for a second (and third, and fourth) try. I make faces and bounce around and act like every single piece of egg or macaroni or banana or cracker is the abso-fucking-lutely BEST thing that EVER existed in the ENTIRE planet. I give her my undivided attention and cheer her on every time she even hints at making a move toward her mouth. I eat my own sympathetic lunch, hoping to inspire, offering her bites of whatever it is I’m eating (rejected, typically, unless it’s the last bite and then she’ll eat it with gusto and cry out for more). I try ignoring her and washing dishes instead, sneaking peeks in hopes that she’ll have finally focused on what is in front of her and taste something already. I fix her a shocking array of different things and put them on her tray one at a time in hopes that she’ll find something that doesn’t offend.

Eventually a shred of food makes it into her mouth and she realizes that maybe it’s not the worst fate there ever was just to eat a a little bit after all. Provided it is not green. Or nutritious. And preferably it has sugar as a primary ingredient. It’s really quite sad; she will happily eat pieces of cookie until the cows come in but treats anything vegetable with outright suspicion. Our latest trick has been to put dollops of ranch dressing on whatever it is we want her to eat. She will lick it off and we can only hope a molecule of the good stuff is ingested. Anyway ranch dressing has wee flecks of green so she’s getting some vegetables at least.

[flash /images/2009/0903/eating.flv w=400 h=300 f={autostart=false}]

Ronin signifies that the “meal” has ended typically with an abrupt return to her former crabbiness. To be sure I understand that she is finito with all the stuff on her tray, of which she has usually only eaten a small fraction, she systematically swipes the remains onto the floor and begins to rub her (ranch dressing/Toby’s tofu pate/chorizo-covered) hands into her hair while whining and crying. I remove her from the Chair, wash her hands in the sink (dislikes), wipe her face off (dislikes extremely), and turn her loose. In the end, I’m totally frazzled and exhausted; I survey the destruction and begin the clean up.

8 Comments on “Ronin dislikes food, loves cookies”

  1. Meg says:

    I’m so glad sleeping is going better! Rosalind had a major relapse since I last talked to you, because she got sick–I was a zombie. Once you’re out of the habit of spending a lot of time out of bed in the am’s, it’s hard to go back! But she’s recovering her good habits, slowly.

    Ronin sounds pretty stubborn on the eating front. It’s so hard when they don’t eat–every maternal instinct insists you get good in their mouths by whatever means necessary. Rosalind is not as ornery as Ronin, but as she gets skinnier and skinnier it’s easy to fall prey to worry (at her last doctor’s appt, she was off the charts for height and 50th for weight, but her height/weight proportion was in the 5-10% bracket.) But you know, when it comes down to it kids are animals, and animals are not going to let themselves starve when there is food in the environment. Rosy goes days eating almost nothing, and then she’ll totally gorge herself for a meal as you describe above–and I’ve got to think that’s just fine. I think the most important thing now is that she be in control (not that you have a choice) and that meals be good times.

    Just on the off chance it’s helpful, here are some things that have worked for us (sometimes):
    – Different eating implements. She likes to alternate between her toddler spoon, our big spoons, and a chinese soup spoon/bowl thing. (These days she also has kid chopsticks and sometimes she even gets food in her mouth with them somehow.)
    – Only putting a few things on the tray at a time. If the tray gets squashed up and gross with things she doesn’t want, cleaning it off helps sometimes.
    – Ignoring whether she’s eating or not. Often she won’t really get started for a full ten minutes, and then right as I’m about to give up she starts eating like mad.
    – Eating next to her. If I’m eating the same food, that’s most encouraging, but eating anything beside her is good. Partly it just gives me something to focus on besides what she’s doing.
    – Food that’s interesting to get in her mouth. She eats bananas much better if they are only partly peeled, she only ever touches meat if it’s still on a bone, etc.
    – Lots of snacks on the go. She gets food all over the floor, but whatever. Cheese sticks are great, pieces of apple, banana, nutrigrain type bars (the kashi type have less sugar), dried fruit and raisins, even the odd spoonful of almond butter.

    But most of all–just trusting her to decide when and what she eats (within limits of course. She’d have six hot chocolates a day if it was up to her.) Rosalind doesn’t eat quite the healthful, vegetable based diet I might have imagined for her once, but she doesn’t do too badly. So long as she’s healthy and growing, it’s all good.

  2. Henrik and Nina, BIKA says:

    Oh, the joys of parenthood…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to hear that food is still so difficult for you guys. It sounds heartbreaking. I think Meg offered some good suggestions and insights. If you’re willing to entertain some more, I’d like to offer a few based on our experience with Alden… you know, just in case they are strategies that you haven’t a) already tried and b) think might actually have a sliver of a chance of working.

    1) When you put her in the highchair, don’t offer any food. Instead, play games with her or offer her some of her favorite toys instead. Maybe she has a bad association with the chair, which spoils her mood and puts the kabosh on any feeding prospects. This technique worked for us the first time Alden started to get crabby when we’d put him in the chair for a meal. Once we mixed it up enough so that he was never sure if he was getting play time or a meal, his crankiness went away.

    2) Try putting her in a seat attached directly to your dining table/kitchen island or wherever you eat your meals. We got this Inglesina seat from my Dad and Alden won’t eat in anything else. He really likes being at the same table as us and watching the food preparations happen, even if he’s not eating.

    3) When Alden is being really stubborn, Kerstin distracts him with a game at the table while I shovel food into his mouth unawares. Here’s how it goes down: Alden starts pitching a fit after eating only a bite or two, no matter what I offer him. Kerstin gets a ball (one of Alden’s favorite things) and rolls it to him from one side of the kitchen island. Alden rolls the ball back and this repeats until he gets so engrossed in the game that he’s not conscious of anything else around him. While his mind is wholly engaged in the ball game, his mouth becomes this bizarre pavlovian baby bird. It will open to let in food when the spoon approaches, even though Alden doesn’t even seem to be aware that the spoon is there, much less that he’s being fed. We can usually get 2-3 ounces in him using this method before he gets wise to what’s going on.

    I sincerely hope that one of these tips will help you guys out. Ronin will figure out that there’s a great big world full of wonderful flavors out there waiting for her at some point. You’re doing great so far. Don’t give up!

  4. cheyenne says:

    Hey there you guys–thanks for the thoughtful responses. I realize the post was sort of negative… Mealtimes stress me out way more than they should and I should just chill and go with the flow, I know. It’s just so hard to do though.. I get all worked up about her not eating anything but cheese, ranch dressing, and bits of baguette–and of course what sweetened granola, dried banana, pieces of anything sweet, etc. we give her (usually, anyway; when she rejects sweet things, I really despair).

    My strategy is to try to lessen the trauma associated with the Chair. I’m thinking that letting her have one of her stuffed toys (even if it gets covered in oh-I-don’t-even-want-to-think-about-it) might help. Let her feed chevre to Bat-bear. I don’t care because I’m cool as a cucumber.

    On the (very very) plus side, she has been only eating ONCE per night these past three nights! WOOT!! And it has been no big whoop. She wakes, Joshua goes in and literally three minutes later, he’s back in bed (maybe takes a few tries) and she sleeps until 4 or 5am (when I nurse her). I’m happy. Also, she ATE BROCCOLI. I was astounded. We didn’t even have to do the whole soak-in-ranch-dressing thing I envisioned it would take to get her to ingest the stuff. Just ate it like it was no big deal.

    Things change so rapidly with the little monkeys.. I just hold onto the idea that she could be eating spinach with a wheat germ chaser in a few month’s time, sleeping straight until 8am like it was no big deal, start pooping diamonds…

  5. Ginger says:

    I love all the stories no matter what they are! She is still the most beautiful thing on earth (well, I think Celine is too). I love all her hair, she actually looks like a girl! Celine is far from it….at the moment she’s sporting a mullet.

    We are enjoying the beginning of spring here and I’m thinking she’s got Carlos’ dark complexion because she’s getting browner and browner and not burning – yea! We hired a receptionist for the office so I’m happy that next week will be a little easier on me and Celine will be mostly mine. We went to another one year old’s birthday party – yuck yuck. Those things are way overrated. First time she had ice cream and cake and preferred the banana – good job me.


  6. Peg Bowden says:

    You have some wonderful friends with some great ideas, Cheyenne. I guess I mostly remember that you and your brother liked sitting at the table with us and eating big people food. You LOVED broccoli, plain, with a little butter. And spaghetti, plain, with a little butter. You threw baby-food spinach around the room and it stuck to the curtains. For years. I never could wash it out. Ronin looks healthy and fiercely determined to do things her way. Just look at those eyes. And hey, ranch dressing is mostly milk and mayo (which is eggs and oil), so that’s not so bad, really.
    Looking forward to your visit in May. I’ll feed Ronin enchiladas and chile rellenos. –Peg

  7. Ilana says:

    Sorry about the whole anon thing – I hit submit before I’d filled everything in. Stupid itchy mousing finger…. Still, it probably wasn’t too hard to figure out who the post was from ;)

  8. Anonymous says:

    Give her some broccoli, a little pepperoncini, some avocado with salt, and then stuff as many grapes in your mouth as possible for the entertainment factor. There you go! Maybe she’s like mother-like daughter :)

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Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell